Is It Safe to Travel to Ukraine?
Biggest Ukrainian city and its capital at the same time, Kiev, has survived many historical periods. Even the most ancient of them left traces in Kiev. Together with low prices and huge options of how to spend time there, this Ukrainian city was ranked as the cheapest European city for travelers by German media source InStyle. Ukraine is safe to travel to, and here we’d like to discuss some of the things the travelers might be concerned about when considering whether to include Ukraine and Kyiv into their travel list or not.
Since revolution at Maidan outbreak and following war conflict with Russia, number of people visiting Ukraine dropped significantly. However, since then, the situation all over the country has calmed with exception of Crimea and parts of Lugansk and Donetsk regions. Because these areas are not controlled by Ukrainian government, neither Ukrainians nor foreigners can make touristic trips there. Embassies of the USA, UK, all EU members and others are against all travel to these regions.
Rapid process of social and state-building in Ukraine with all their consequences is covered in the world media in different ways. However, the situation in the rest of the country is generally calm. All the institutions, service providers and public and international transport are not affected. Embassies and consulates work in usual mode and ready to provide travelers with both help and protection in case needed. Traveling around Ukraine is free from danger regardless of the situation in Crimea and mentioned eastern regions.
Is It Safe to Travel to Kiev?
In 2019, Kiev was visited by 4 million tourists, Kiev Mayor Vitalii Klitschko reported. It makes it one of the most popular destinations with tourists in the country.
Generally, Kiev is safe for visitors. The situation in Ukrainian capital is similar to the rest of European cities. Most of the visits are trouble-free, as foreign embassies report on their web-sites. Travelers share their positive opinion and experience on the forums of Tripadvisor and Lonelyplanet.
If you’re concerned about racism or homophobia in Kiev and in Ukraine, we can assure that there is no need to worry about it when traveling there. Ukraine is a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic country. There are up to 20 nationalities living permanently in Kiev and more than 130 live in Ukraine. Although the discrimination is widely discussed issue in Ukraine and Kiev, it’s more about spheres that foreign travelers are not related to. Skin color or appearance might draw locals’ attention, but their interest will be manifested in looking at staring maximum. Homosexuality is not officially illegal there. There is Kyiv Pride taking place in the capital every year to draw attention to the human right regardless of their sexual orientation and identity. However, it’s better not to express your feelings on the public, as long as Ukraine is on its way from conservatism and traditionalism to the openness.
Travelers’ Health Safety in Ukraine
As long as the big industries are located mostly in the central and eastern parts of Ukraine, the rest of country’s territory is hardly affected by air pollution. During April 2020, Kiev was covered with smoke from the forest fires in the North of Ukraine. It made it to become the city with the most polluted air, but only for a couple of weeks. The fires were stopped, and in the beginning of June, Kiev took the 93rd position out of 100 in the list of the most polluted cities, according to IQAir.
In the majorities of cities, including Kiev, drinking water from the tap is not recommended. Unless your accommodation is equipped with water filter, you should consider buying bottled water.
Proximity to Chernobyl (around 2 hours of driving), makes some tourists worried when traveling to Kiev. However, nowadays Chernobyl doesn’t influence radiological situation in Kiev. Even during the forest fires in the Chernobyl exclusion zone in April 2020, the level of radioactivity in the capital didn’t increase. Instead of worrying, when traveling to Kiev, tourists should consider visiting Chernobyl as well.
Due to the situation around coronavirus, Ukrainian authorities closed the border for travelers in mid March. However, the incidence of COVID-19 in Ukraine is not as high as was expected. In the beginning of June, there were 24,340 confirmed cases of infection, 10,078 of them recovered and 727 died. There are almost 40 million of people living in Ukraine, so less than 1% of population got infected. Since mid June 2020, Ukrainian border is open again. When coming here, the rules to protect you from COVID-19 are the same as everywhere else.
Some Tips for Travelers’ Protection
The rules for tourists that come to Kiev are almost the same if they were traveling to any other European city.
Crime against travelers is low and usually consists in pickpocketing. To minimize it, you should avoid crowds and take care of your belongings. Unless you want to enjoy shopping the flea market, you can easily survive without cash. You can pay with card in the shops, restaurants and bars, metro and many others. Also, there is an option of Kyiv Smart Card for the public transport (including metro), so that you’ll don’t have to carry cash with you. Even if you decide to exchange some money and get local currency, take into consideration that Kiev is a cheap city and you’ll not need a lot of cash.
According to the Ukrainian law, foreigners have to carry their ID with them. So, look after your documents carefully. However, local police officers don’t bother themselves checking all the travelers.
Central part of Kiev is full of hotels, restaurants and museums and has vivid nightlife. The streets are well lit. Usually, walking the night streets in that area is secure.
To stay connected all the time, you can use either roaming or buy local SIM card. The one with unlimited internet data will cost less than 10 €.
After hosting Euro-2012, Kiev implemented bilingual signs and announcements in the public transport and on the streets. Around Ukraine, the level of English is generally low. However, in big cities like Kiev there are a lot people with a good knowledge of English. To make your trip as comfortable as possible, you can get familiar with local alphabet and learn some basic expressions.
Hope, this arguments are convincing enough to feel that it’s safe to travel to Ukraine and to start planning your trip to this.